Laying of SilverLine stones a double whammy for landowners in Thiruvaniyur

The laying of survey stones for the SilverLine rail corridor in Thiruvaniyur located off the city has come as a bolt from the blue for people whose land had been frozen over 30 years ago for the Thripunithura bypass, a project which has ever since remained a non-starter.

Even as two generations of people struggled to make ends meet, unable to sell their land or rebuild their houses, survey stones for SilverLine were laid at 20-metre width earlier this month, including a little away from the frozen land where people had resettled in new houses or were in the process of building houses. The situation is much like in the Edappally-Moothakunnam NH 66 corridor, where houses and shops which were built afresh by people who surrendered land to widen the national highway at 30-m width, had to yet again relocate recently when the NH width was fixed at 45 m.

The president of Thripunithura Bypass Action Council Alias A.V. spoke of how about a dozen survey stones were laid in Thiruvaniyur panchayat for SilverLine. “Already 219 landowners were left in the lurch after survey stones were laid and their land were frozen for the bypass project which remained in paper during the past 30 years. The laying of stones for the rail project has resulted in more number of people being affected,” he said.

Interestingly, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not acted, although the alignment frozen for the Thripunithura bypass was included in national highway development under Bharatmala Pariyojana Project. Its inclusion in the project was after Mr. Alias, a Gulf returnee, shot off a letter addressed as public grievance to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in 2020. “I surrendered 25 cents for the project. The stalemate over the project has resulted in none wanting to purchase even the balance portion of the land that I own. The government must at least now de-freeze the land so that three-decades of uncertainty would end,” he said.

Most landowners are neck-deep in crisis. Their plight would turn for the worse if survey stones are laid on rest of the land that they possess, said Benny Behanan, MP, whose constituency includes a part of the bypass alignment. “Else, the NHAI must include the frozen alignment in its upcoming Kundannoor-Angamaly NH bypass stretch,” he added.

The Thiruvankulam regional secretary of Ernakulam District Residents Associations’ Apex Council (EDRAAC), M.M. Mohanan hoped the plots of land identified for the SilverLine project do not meet the same fate as those which were frozen for the Thripunithura bypass. “A total of 12 hectares remain frozen for the bypass project. Landowners are unable to sell their plots even for urgent needs like marriage or education. The SilverLine alignment has been laid just 50 to 100 metres away from the frozen land. Many who were constructing houses have halted the work and opted for rented houses,” he said.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 10:52:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/laying-of-silverline-stones-a-double-whammy-for-landowners-in-thiruvaniyur/article38316014.ece